The reviews I read of Ashurst had me pretty excited about enjoying a calm, quiet, lakeside campsite. We brought the canoe, arrived around 11:30 and found the place packed. There is a decent 5-7 mile stretch of washboard road to get there, you can get there in a car, its not like off-roading but it may rattle some bolts loose! The sites before the actual lake campgrounds were super packed, full of RVs with toys from off-road buggies to dirt bikes. We happened to catch a spot just as one family was beginning to leave. It was a short walk to the water, but not ON the water's edge and many of the sites were not, they were on the other side of the road you drive in on. There were all kinds of campers, from the casual tent and a few supplies kinda campers to people with three truck loads and a trailer of everything they could fit in a campsite and set up a full patio and grill.
Once you find a campsite the ranger comes by and you pay them for your spot, $19 for the site, $8 for an additional vehicle on the site, there are 5 of us. We ended up in spot 8, which actually had three good tent spots! The firepit is awesome, well surrounded by rocks and there is a solid picnic table included too. It's July and campfires are currently allowed. Site 8 is right by a row of port-a-potty's and bit drinkable water tank.
We canoed and fished in the evening, the people fishing next to us caught 5 fairly small fish from the shore and I never caught a thing. By the time we got back to the tent for the evening there was a fairly constant noise from surrounding campsites, from kids screaming to dogs barking, to the continuous hum of the offered buggies dusting the campsites as they drove in and out.
I think for a campsite as a whole it has everything you need, its pretty clean, the porte-potties weren't terrible and were stocked with TP, but it wasn't what I was looking for in terms of secluded, quiet wilderness. Everyone else was a little too close for comfort.
If you forget your firewood, cash (they only accept cash), drinks etc. there is a little country store just by the entrance to the lower- Lake Mary entrance day-use area. We went down there for cash and firewood.
There are a few things I wish I'd have known before this trip. The parking lot is pretty small, once you drop your kayak/canoe/small boat, you have to drive up a steep little dirt incline to park your car near the restrooms. You can also follow along a rough trail along the ridge with steep drop offs and go down to the dam where the road ends, if you want to explore some. The road from 87 to the water is pretty rough and rattled a rip into our jeep soft top. You will be shaken all the way down.
Go early, the few camp spots along the river fill up quickly. There are a lot of canoe and kayak campers who make their camp early in the day and then set out to fish, so by the time we head downs stream to find a spot on a Saturday round 6 or so it was very full. We found about the very last camp spot along the river, 4 miles down from the boat dock. Some parts of the river are just craggy rock jutting straight down in the river and then high up into the sky, making for great views but little room for camp spots. The camp spots that are around are secluded, grassy and gorgeous. If it hadn't been raining on the one random day it decided to rain this month, we'd have had more fun that evening, taking in the sights, sounds and hanging out by the waterside.
There are a a few maintained campgrounds around, Rock Crossing seemed to be the popular one but it is not ON the water. I think you may be able to hike down to the water from the campsite, however. There are dogs everywhere! Does in canoes, dogs in kayaks, dogs on the shore, it was a puppy party! There are also plenty of fish. Where we camped at the water's end there were little baby fish that we caught, but all the bigger fish were splashing along the deeper areas. There are also places to jump from the rocks and swim. There is zero cell service down in the water. In fact, I didn't get any service until getting up near the one gas station kinda by Happy Jack on 87. If you're down on the water there is quite a ways before you reach a gas station with any kind of anything you may need, but for a gas station they're pretty stocked with fishing and camping gear. So much fun to be had!
This stay was fantastic! The Nordic Village is usually host to snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and nordic getaways, but in the summer time it becomes a quiet host to weddings, cabin stays and a glorious yurt experience.
After checking in we trekked our 1.4 miles out to the Honey Suckle Yurt. The yurt was equipped with some extra potable water, water to douse your fire, a propane grill, comfy floor sleeping mats, a couple of chairs, and a wood burning stove. There's even a lighter and a storage box for your food in the yurt because bears do apparently live in the area although nobody seems to have seen them. We literally did not see a single person all afternoon, or up until we saw one lone hiker about 10am the next morning. We cooked our dinner on the stove and sat by a small fire in a cooler evening air and enjoyed just being together in the middle of nowhere. Such a neat spot. Next time I'm going for the yurt with a serious view, the Morning Glory!
I always come back to this area because it's so laid back and open. Since we camp here with a canoe we have fun setting up right along the water. Some spots you can canoe out to with your gear and camp! I have had some critters get into my gear here, but all in all it's a quiet, laid back boat launch site with nice, large sites and showers too.
It's a great spot to set out with canoes and kayaks, and I'd recommend adventuring over to Hidden Shores and all around in the hidden water trails to explore the area, hop out for a picnic, or hop in to cool off!
I think this is a bit of a tough one to love, but I did. We were soaked the entire time - granted we were fully expecting that going in February - for Valentine's Day no less. We brought all the rain gear.
We were lucky enough to take an afternoon ferry and snag the LAST camp spot available here on a Sunday. There are great hikes all around, we walked around the lake and plopped our canoe in right from the site to go explore around. To warm up in the evening we ended up at the Doe Bay hot springs with a look over the ocean that can't be beat! All around satisfied for a completely soaked Valentine's Weekend, just as is to be expected in Washington in February.
We had a lovely time staying at the Willow Lake RV Park on our visit to Prescott. The bathrooms were spacious and there is a trail directly behind the park that leads out to Willow Lake and a plethora of trails for the trail runner/hiker/explorer. They have great wi-fi, the area has lots of trees and shade and picnic tables too!
We actually arrived late for check-in the the office left our our map and information for us.
We had a 30' RV we wanted to pull through and had no problems with this park. I'd recommend a stop-in here for sure! Their neat little tent-camp sites were even closer to the lake and the trails.
While the Wahweap Campground wins the most scenic view award, hands down, we were all upset about the showers.
Throughout our week of RVing we never once had to pay to use the shower, as we are already paying a fee to stay at the park and use the amenities, why make poor travelers cough up $2 to shower? Because of the fee, we were all (all 5 women I was traveling with) expecting it to be the best shower of our trip, but it wasn't. Also… what kind of traveler has $2 in quarters laying around? Just hope that the office is open so you can exchange for quarters.
Their shop is gorgeous and has a wonderfully wrapped "Smores Kit" for purchase, as well as the firewood we needed to roast our Smores. There are ample trails and great places to go explore down to the water and around the area, but be careful, don't go barefoot because the place is covered in stickers.
The campsites are nice and spacious with lots of trees, bushes and paved roads and paths to all of the restrooms.
My goal was to find a nice tent spot nestled in between Cottonwood and Sedona, and along the Verde River for easy canoe access. Upon driving onto the property we were greeting by a very friendly gatekeeper who wished us a great stay and suggested spots for canoeing and exploring the area.
We were happy to find that the resort had a lovely pool and jacuzzi, (perfect after a day of adventuring or traveling) warm, cozy bathrooms after sleeping in a tent site in 50 degrees, and large clean campsites, many of them with trees and many close enough to hear the Verde River water down below. Being unable to get to the river from our campsite was our only disappointment. We stayed in the "A" section, which has tent and pop-up spots around rows of their mini cabins and RV spots. We were initially worried about the noise from all of the RV's, being more of the backwoods camping sorts, but the entire place is very calm and quiet.
A short walk across what the property will find you at Alcantara Winery. It was the perfect place to end our day of exploring the area. I'd certainly come back to the park in the future.
There are endless camping possibilities in Kofa. Primitive, dispersed real wilderness camping. No water. No toilets, no hookups, generators… and you have to have a 4x4 to get there! Just my kind of spot. I've explored all over this area by jeep, and by foot and never get bored going off on some new abandoned mine trail. There are hidden caves all around and great hikes to get there!
I'll just share my two favorite hidden gems in the area: Signal Peak is a must, and if you do, I recommend camping around Skull Rock. For a scenic offroad trail + neat cabin stay head to Kofa Mine Cabin!
For Signal Peak and the Skull Rock stay, you can park regular cars along Palm Canyon Road where the Kofa Natl Wildlife Refuge Brochures and info are and hop into a 4x4 for the rest of the drive. You'll need it. Don't attempt get to skull rock in any regular, vehicle, or anything without high clearance.
**NOTE: I have left a car in this lot with no issues while camping up in the canyon over night, but of course, do so at your own risk.
From that parking lot you head up to Kofa Queen Canyon and pick your spots for camping. There are plenty of good spots for tent on ledges, or on cots down near skull rock. Here you can grill and have general campfire fun.
The road to Skull Rock is undeveloped, needs high clearance and is a tight squeeze for wider vehicles. It will not accommodate campers or trailers. Tent camping only (aside from maybe your serious bug out vehicle!)
Skull rock camp spot is about a one hour and 45 minute drive from Yuma. From HWY 95 turn (east) onto Palm Canyon Road (not too far past the Border Patrol Checkpoint. Drive east 3.2 miles to Kofa Queen Canyon (KQC) Road on the left (north now). Follow KQC Road northeast about 7.5 miles into the Canyon to where a subsidiary Canyon opens up to your right (south). Passenger cars won't manage this last road. You'll need high clearance and preferably 4wd. The road inside the canyon is alternately rocky and sandy, and braids in and out with the wash. Just follow the 'better-looking' route if unsure at a junction. Enough people come up here you should be able to see lots of tire tracks.
*NOTE: There is no cell service at the campsite.
From here we drive down the trail bit further to get to Signal Peak (roughly 4,800ft), it's Kofa's highest peak. This is a strenuous hike with steep slopes and some scrambling, and should only be done by experienced hikers in good physical conditions with proper hiking boots. The beautiful view from from the top is absolutely worth the hike.
Dogs: Although I know of people who have brought dogs up here, it is a very rocky hike and could be very hot or treacherous for your pup. You may consider bringing a dog only if he is an avid hiker and has very strong paw pads (or hiking boots), and can physically handle the demands of this hike. Also, dogs as per Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Rules - are required to be on a leash at all times.
For the Kofa Mine Section, head on your way out to the Kofa Mine Museum and then just past it take the turn to Big Eye Mine - 15 mile offroad trail where a real, high clearance truck/jeep 4x4 is needed. There are at least 2 hairy sections that I even got a jeep stuck in for a minute. All of this area is full of mines and great open camping spaces.
Kofa was established in 1939 to be managed: “…as a representative area of lower Sonoran Desert habitat with a maximum diversity and abundance of native plants and animals and to protect and preserve the desert bighorn sheep and its habitat…” Since 1955, over 560 desert bighorn sheep have been trapped on Kofa and transplanted to other areas in Arizona, as well as to the states of New Mexico, California, Colorado, Texas and Nevada, to re-establish herds extirpated from habitat loss, development and over-hunting.
Unless you are a skilled Arizona adventurer, I'd advise against hiking or even offloading (in case something goes wrong) during the hot summer months when temperatures can rise to over 115 degrees F.
Kudos to the wonderfully friendly guard at check-in. However, Canyon Lake Campground was easily the worst stay I have ever encountered at a camp site and I was quickly reminded why I do not stay at shared campgrounds very often. But the temptation of sleeping next to a lake and the gentle lapping of waves on the shore lured us in. There was no gentle lapping, and because our site was full of trash and because the trash bins themselves for the grounds were overflowing, there was a swarm of bees hovering around the trash can area. And what I later realized was likely a sugar high from their regular soda consumption from the cans strewn around, the jacked up bees hovered around our morning breakfast, coffee, and dinner and buzzed us regularly. One truck down the row of tightly crammed tent sites blared loud music over his speaker (yes just one, the other side was already blown out) for most of the sunset, and the site across from us allowed their chihuahua to bark obsessively at every passerby for quite some time. The group directly next to us slept split between a small tent, the truck bed, and inside of their truck. Hardly the "camping" experience most people generally consider. I highly doubt anyone in that camp ground was out to "experience nature" quite the same way that we were.
The more manicured RV sites were on a grass lawn and all led right up to the water, so I imagine their experience, aside from the shared bees and trash cans, could be quite different than ours.
We couldn't run away fast enough in the morning.